September 22, 2017

Upset Bird Day in America: Picks for Dolphins-Jets, rest of NFL; plus hating Heat uniform patch and media coverage of it & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Shanahtova1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) In these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a hearty 'shanah tova' to all of our Jewish readers and listeners! 3) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL Week 2 QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY Week 3 Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: NFL WEEK 3 PICKS: NEXT-EASIEST WEEK AFTER A BYE? DOLPHINS AT JETS!After lucking to win their delayed opener at the L.A. Chargers last week the Dolphins should roll to 2-0 Sunday at the stinky, Stinkin' Jets. They'd better. A season sweep of lowly NYJ is a prerequisite if Miami is to surprise doubters with a second straight playoff season. Click on Week 3 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week (Falcons-Lions), Upset of the Week (Seahawks-Titans: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game including Breakfast at Wembley -- the season's first of four London games. Our week got off to a mixed start last night in the Rams' unexpectedly exciting 41-39 pointfest over the 49ers. Had Rams winning, but missed out on the ATS win with the push against a 2-point spread. Rams were cover-bound the whole game, until late.

HeatpatchHATING HEAT'S UNIFORM PATCH, AND MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF IT: The NBA sold-out and is allowing teams to wear small advertising patches on the front of game uniforms starting this season, another reminder our teams are businesses, and your Miami Heat will wear the logo of a Broward-based company called Ultimate Software. Except it isn't even really a logo, just the words Ultimate Software in which the 'i' in Ultimate appears to be a person. The company sells a product that is a "cloud-based human capital management solution." Gawd. The patch is ugly and the idea of it uglier. The first domino has tipped toward a time when team names themselves will be will be for sale. "And today in the NBA, your Amazon Heat take on the Samsung Knicks." Pragmatically I get why the Heat and other teams like the uniform patches. The wrd is revenue. The mystery is why Your Friend the Media plays along like a bunch of lemmings, dutifully printing and broadcasting the names of corporate sponsors. Yesterday's business deal between the Heat and Ultimate Software was reported by the Herald and other outlets as if it was actual news. Why? Because the Heat announced it as such and Pat Riley was there and so reporters flocked. Sad.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 21, 2017

Brady leaps, Cutler debuts in Herald Week 2 QB rankings; plus new Back In My Day video (Straws!), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 2 results, SOPY Week 3 standings (new leader), Dolphins column on Parker/offensive potential, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on general reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Florida Panthers opened preseason in Nashville this week with a doubleheader split vs. Predators. Hockey on, Heat soon, Dolphins underway, Marlins still going. Worlds collide! 3) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win opener in L.A. with season-debut DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Tonight's NFL pick: Click on Thursday Gem for our predix capsule on tonight's Rams-49ers game. 

Latest Dolphins column: Lost a bit amid the drama of Hurricane Irma and AWOL Lawrence Timmons, Sunday's opener hinted at how good this Dolphins offense and breakout star DeVante Parker might be. Click on Potential & Promise to read.

BRADY CATAPULTS, CUTLER DEBUTS / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 2: The Patriots' Tom Brady wins Week 2 with a 57.35-point game to catapult 18 spots to Jayc8th overall in the Miami Herald's NFL Week 2 quarterback rankings. The Chiefs' Alex Smith maintains his overall season lead. And the Dolphins' Jay Cutler (pictured) scores a solid 34.50-point game, eighth for this week, to land 24th in the overall chart. This is the 20th season of Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.
 
MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 2
RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK2            Season
1        1     Alex Smith, KC                  34.55            90.95
2        6     Derek Carr, OAK               43.50            79.60
3        3     Matthew Stafford, DET      26.10            71.70
4        8t    Aaron Rodgers, GB          36.15            70.70
5       13    Philip Rivers, LAC             42.55             69.15
6        8t    Drew Brees, NO                32.80             67.35
7       10    Ben Roethlisberger, PIT    34.15             67.30
8       26    Tom Brady, NE                   57.35            66.70
9        7     Matt Ryan, ATL                  30.60             66.65
10     15    Trevor Siemian, DEN         37.55            62.50
11      4      Carson Wentz, PHI           23.65             60.00
12     14     Mike Glennon, CHI           29.05             54.70
13      2      Sam Bradford, MIN            DNP             53.30
14      5      Jared Goff, LAR               16.20              52.50
15     11      Dak Prescott, DAL           21.90             52.30
24     -–      Jay Cutler, MIA                 34.50             34.50
    Bubble: Eli Manning, NYG, 51.95. Week 2/season best: Brady, NE, 57.35 (30-39, 447, 3-0 in win). Week 2 worst: DeShone Kizer, CLE, minus-0.90  (15-31, 182, 0-3 in loss).
    Formula: Accuracy—Completions times two minus attempts. Ex: 17 for 28 = 6 points. Yardage—Five percent of total. Ex: 202 yards = 10.10 points. TD-interception ratio—Difference times three. Ex: Four TDs and one pick = 9 points. Team result—Winning QB of record = 5 points.

Fripix LobosNFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2 RESULTS: Every Tuesday in the blog I'll tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 2: Herald picks: Uneven -- We went 11-5 overall (pretty good) and 7-9 against the point spread (not so good). Nailed an outright upset with Broncos over Cowboys and had three other 'dogs with points: Bills, Dolphins and and Lions. Greg's Lobos: Tough luck = tough loss -- The Lobos lost to Sarah Spain 126.2-117.5. Had three guys in 20s led by Lobo of the Week Todd Gurley's 26.6 and still had a shot into Monday night but the killer was Jordy Nelson's early injury and 0 points. Normal game from Nelson or a few more touches from Theo Riddick and we win. If, if, if.

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 3: NEW LEADER AS SEASON CRAWLS OUT FROM UNDER IRMA: Only three of seven state FBS teams were in action this past weekend
Qflowersafter only two were the week before. But we have a new season leader in our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race -- entering Week 4. That would be South Florida QB Quinton Flowers (pictured) out of Miami Jackson High, the defending champion. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 4:

2017 SOPY WEEK 3 TOP 10

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb           214

2    1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb             208

3    3    Mark Walton-Miami rb                168

4    4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                167.5

5    5    Travis Homer-Miami rb               133

6    6    Alex McGough-FIU qb                 131.25

7    7    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                     120

8    9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb            102

9    --    Dredrick Snelson, UCF-rec           98

10  --    Darius Tice, SoFla-rb                   95

Bubble: DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec, 91. Other team leader: Tyrie Cleveland-Fla rec, 79.5. Week 3 best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 276. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 276.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (3-0); 4. Florida (1-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (1-1); 7. FIU (1-1).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

We have discontinued the blog's Hot Button Daily. Hey, the bells 'n whistles come and go, right?

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 16, 2017

NEW: Great or god-awful, Cutler won't be dull; plus the method to Brad Kaaya's madness, NFL Week 2 pix for Dolphins-Chargers and rest of league, Collball Week 3 (Gators!), Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16. Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald Week 1 QB rankings, My Weekend With Irma, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 1 results, latest SOPY rankings & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NEW: Sunday column, online now: Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

Dolphins, Canes & Irma: A football season born to Hurricane Irma gives Dolphins and UM an unusual opportunity if they'll take it. Click Storybook Ending Waits, But Can Dolphins Or Canes Write It? to read.

THE METHOD TO BRAD KAAYA'S MADNESS: Kaaya should have come back and played his senior season for the Miami Hurricanes to improve his draft stock, Samdarnoldwhich everybody knew was low -- verified by his being a late (sixth-round) draft pick. He already has been cut once (Lions) and is on his second team (Panthers). But at least now we know why he decided to enter the NFL in 2017 instead of '18. The evidence is on Mel Kiper's first 2018 Draft "Big Board" for ESPN. Kiper has quarterbacks ranked 1-2-3 overall in USC's Sam Darnold (pictured), UCLA's Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen. He has two other QBs on his list and projected first round in Louisville's Lamar Jackson (13th overall) and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph (25th). Even with that, though, I still believe Kaaya might have been drafted significantly higher than sixth round in '18 had he stayed and performed well. By the way, only one state-college player makes Kiper's first Big Board: Florida State safety Derwin James, ranked fifth overall.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: WEEK 2: FINALLY, THE DOLPHINS: After an unscheduled Week 1 bye (way to go, Irma) the Dolphins finally get at it Sunday in what will be the club's latest season opener since 1977. But will it be worth the wait with a victory at the Los Angeles Chargers? Sorry, Dolfans. It'll take Fins awhile to shake off the delay-rust and catch up to regular-season speed. And I'm not sure I trust Miami's pass defense against Philip Rivers. Click on Week 2 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Chargers, our Game of the Week (Patriots-Saints), Upset of the Week (Packers-Falcons: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a stumbling start last night. Did not see the Texans winning (or covering) at Cincinnati. Ouch.

COLLBALL WEEK 3: THREE STATE FBS TEAMS BACK AT IT, BUT FOUR STILL IRMA'D: We ain't back to normal in state Collball yet, folks. Last week only two of our seven state FBS teams got games in; this week we're up to three, with the rest still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Irma.

State FBS Week 3 games (chronologically):

No. 22 South Florida 47, Illinois 23Quinton Flowers' 386 combined pass/run yards power Bulls at home to 3-0 start.

TenflaNo. 24 Florida 26, No. 23 Tennessee 20: Vols were 2-0 but 5 1/2-point road underdogs to the 0-1 Gators in Florida's SEC opener. Wirth reason, apparently. What a game, won on a last-second deep touchdown pass. Jim McElwain is so happy he's ready to lay naked on a shark in a boat!

FAU 45, Bethune-Cookman 0: Lane Kiffin's Owls get first win after 0-2 start. Good thing. Lose to Bethune and poor Lane might-a started wondering why he took this job.

Postponed: No. 17 Miami at No. 11 Florida State: Game is reset for Oct. 7. Because of season-ending injury to Noles star QB Deondre Francois, Canes as of right now would be a betting favorite in the 1 1/2 to 3-point range. 

Cancelled: FIU at Indiana: Butch Davis' Panthers denied shot at a second straight win.

Cancelled: Georgia Tech at UCF: Too bad. Had makings of an entertaining matchup.

National Collball Week 3 overview: Light week for mega-matchups. Beside Tennessee-Florida (which barely qualifies), the only other Top 25 duel was Saturday night's No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville, won easily by Clemson, 47-21.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 9-16-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 p.m.: Vols-Gators renew rivalry in Top 25 matchup.

2. Marlins at Milwaukee, 8:10 p.m.: Miami "home" again; lost 6 in row, last 3 by 28-3.

3. Clemson at Louisville, 8 p.m.: No. 3 visits No. 14 in national Collball game of week.

4. San Francisco at Miami FC, 7:30 p.m.: Locals host NASL soccer match.

5. Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin, 10 p.m.: Big middleweight bout from Vegas.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 14, 2017

Let's laugh at Brady (while we can): Herald debuts QB rankings; plus my weekend with Irma, Texans-Bengals pick, NFL Week 1 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Marino documentary, SOPY rankings, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14. Happy to be back in the blog saddle after a few days knocked off by Hurricane Irma. 2) I refuse to believe the Indians have won 20 games in a row. Know it's true. Don't believe it. 3) Know any devoted Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Sports' place in our lives as a hurricane hits, Upset Bird Day in America, Collball Week 2 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Texans-Bengals pick: Two teams already desperate to bounce back from awful Week 1 performances. Only one will. Here's who: Click Thursday Night Gem.

Marino documentary debuts Friday: What I was first to tell you about a few months ago is ready to pop. NFL Films' "A Football Life" series stars Dolphins great Dan Marino in a documentary debuting this Friday -- Dan's 56th birthday -- at 9 p.m. on NFL Network. Yours truly was among people interviewed for the doc, although (I've seen the finished product) some of my best work was left on the cutting room floor (!).

The no-excuses challenge for Dolphins, Canes: Their seasons were born to a hurricane named Irma. Games were postponed or cancelled, schedules and plans disrupted. Now, the challenge for the Miami Dolphins and UM Hurricanes is to accept no excuses and make something special of what began in turmoil. Click on Storybook Ending Waits, But Can Dolphins Or Canes Write It? to read my latest column.

LET'S ALL MAKE FUN OF TOM BRADY (WHILE WE CAN) / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 1: The Chiefs' Alex Smith soars to the Week 1 crown with 56.40 Sadbradypoints, edging Viking Sam Bradford, as the Miami Herald launches its 20th season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL quarterback rankings. But here's the fun part. Miami's Jay Cutler had a better week than the Patriots' Tom Brady. Cutler threw zero interceptions by virtue of Hurricane Irma's unexpected gift of a bye week, while Brady stumbles out the gate in 26th place (with 9.35 points) of 31 passers who had at least 10 attempts. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. (The exact formula is detailed below). Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Here we go!
 
MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 1
RK    '16    Player, Team                    Week 1/Season
1       16    Alex Smith, KC                    56.40
2         5    Sam Bradford, MIN              53.30
3         6    Matthew Stafford, DET        45.60
4       20    Carson Wentz, PHI              36.35
5       40    Jared Goff, LAR                  36.30
6        7     Derek Carr, OAK                 36.10
7        2     Matt Ryan, ATL                   36.05
8        1     Drew Brees, NO                  34.55
8        3     Aaron Rodgers, GB              34.55
10     15    Ben Roethlisberger, PIT       33.15
11      9     Dak Prescott, DAL               30.40
12     13     Eli Manning, NYG               28.00
13     19    Philip Rivers, LAC                26.60
14     52     Mike Glennon, CHI              25.65
15     24     Trevor Siemian, DEN           24.95
        Bubble: Tyrod Taylor, BUF, 23.20. Week 1/season best: Smith, KC, 56.40 (28-35, 368, 4-0 in win). Week 1/season worst: Andy Dalton, CIN, minus-2.50 (16-31, 170, 0-4 in loss).
        Herald PASS Championships: 7—Brees (2008-11, '14-016); 6—Peyton Manning (2000, '03-04, '06, '12-13); 2—Kurt Warner (1999, 2001); 1 each—Steve Young (1998), Rich Gannon (2002), Carson Palmer (2005) and Tom Brady (2007).
        Points formula: Accuracy—Completions times two minus attempts. Ex: 17 for 28 = 6 points. Yardage—Five percent of total. Ex: 202 yards = 10.10 points. TD-interception ratio—Difference times three. Ex: Four TDs and one pick = 9 points. Team result—Winning QB of record = 5 points.

 

SwaleMY WEEKEND WITH IRMA: Thanks to all our readers and listeners who expressed concerned as we bunkered in against Hurricane Irma. We sustained a bunch of tree and landscape damage but otherwise made out fine. Pictured is a pile of felled trees and foliage on my swale, collected from my yard. It's about six feet high and at least 20 feet wide, and growing. (Click image for enlarged view). We were without power most of Sunday and Monday and had no Internet until late Tuesday, but I cannot complain. Not one bit. Not after so many of my fellow Floridians got hit so much worse. I feel very lucky, in fact. Very fortunate. Thoughts are with those in Key West and the state's west coast and everyone trying to rebuild their lives. Happy to be rid of awful Irma, and thrilled to again appreciate the small miracles of life, such as the flip of a switch magically producing light. My latest column, linked directly above, includes more on what our Irma experience was like. Thanks again for the concern, and it's great to be back!

Fripix LobosNFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 1 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I'll tell you how I did the previous NFL week with my Miami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 1: Herald picks: So-so start -- We went 8-7 overall (not good) and also 8-7 against the point spread (not bad). Misfired badly on our Upset of the Week call (49ers over Panthers) but nailed another outright upset (Raiders over Titans) and had three other 'dogs-with-points (Chiefs, Jaguars, Chargers). Greg's Lobos: 1-0, baby! -- The Lobos crushed Lorenzo Rodriguez (TV producer), 115.1-72.4, led by 20.9 points from Lobo of the Week Jordy Nelson. Also got 20.6 from Todd Gurley.

SOPY RANKINGS / AFTER WEEK 2: LITTLE CHANGE, THANKS TO IRMA: Only two of seven state FBS teams (FIU and FAU) snuck in games in Week 2, while the Sopyother five were cancelling or postponing due to Hurricane Irma. Therefore there isn't much change in our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race -- entering Week 3. The weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based on average yards per game: Total divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 3:

2017 SOPY WEEK 2 TOP 10

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb             208

2    2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb           183

3    3    Mark Walton-Miami rb                168

4    4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                167.5

5    6    Travis Homer-Miami rb               133

6    7    Alex McGough-FIU qb                 131.25

7    5    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                     110.75

8    8    Thomas Owens- FIU rec              105

9    9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb            102

10  --    DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec            101.5

Bubble: Dredrick Snelson-UCF rec, 98. Week 2 best: McGough-FIU, 155. Season best: Milton-UCF, 208 (W1).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (2-0); 4. Florida (0-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (1-1).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 9-14-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Houston at Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m.: Texans, Bengals in Thursday Night Football.

2. Marlins at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m.: It's now 14 losses in past 16 games for rotting Fish.

3. UEFA soccer, 12:45 p.m.: Five more matches happening today.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 09, 2017

Be safe, all. On sports' place in our lives as a hurricane hits; plus Upset Bird Day in America. Week 1 NFL pix; also, FIU wins, FAU plays, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY/SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9-10. Be safe, South Florida. Looks like Hurricane Irma's western veer will help some of us, but not all. All the best to all of us. 2) Know any devoted Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Irma's impact on local sports with UM cancellation poll, SOPY Week 1 rankings, BIMD and Steely Dan videos & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Blog advisory: Because of Hurricane Irma concerns and an anticipated loss of electricity at some point, our Sunday Hot Button Top 10 list is taking the weekend off. We'll be back here checking in as long as we can, and then again once order (and power) are restored. 

ON SPORTS' PLACE IN OUR LIVES AS A HURRICANE HITS: Everything seems crazy, from North Korea and terrorism and the "alt-right" to Houston flooding and now Hurricane Irma. Sports -- playing games -- can seem so insignificant in the context of our overarching worries. Yet om some ways, to me, these difficult times make sports and our teams more important than ever. They are an anchor representing the balance and normalcy in our lives. This is my latest column. Click on A Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits to read in full.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA!: Dolphins have a Week 1 bye thanks to scurrilous Hurricanes Irma but the rest of the NFL plows on, and so does our 27th season of Friday NFL picks. We got off to a mixed start last night. We didn't call Kansas City's outright upset win at New England but we did have Chiefs with the points against the spread. If we're going to split a result, we'll take the point-spread win, thanks. We had a nifty .560 ATS record last season and want to be even better this year. Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for the KC-NE pick. Click Week 1 Friday Gems for the rest of our picks. Highlights: Packers beat Seahawks 27-23 in our Game of the Week, and 49ers stun Panthers 24-21 in our Upset of the Week. "Aaawwwk!" Irma Schmirma. Nothing stops the Upset Bird!

COLLBALL WEEK 2: YOUR MIXED VERDICT ON CANES CANCELLATION CONTROVERSY: We asked if you agreed with No. 16 UM's Cancelleddecision to cancel its Saturday road game at Arkansas State due to Hurricanes Irma. Results were sharply mixed. Most, 62.3 percent, answered, "Yes. Coaches and players should be with family, and return might have been delayed." But another 31.9% answered, "No. Game was more than 1,100 miles away and not threatened by Irma." The other 5.8% answered, "Not sure." The Canes are hardly alone. UM is one of fve (of seven) state FBS teams that are a self-imposed idle, reduced to 11-game regular seasons. Another is FSU, which cancelled its home opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe due to Irma. (Or, perhaps due to not wanting UM to have an edge in preparation for next week's huge showdown in Tallahassee. Also not playing this weekend: UCF vs. Memphis, South Florida at Connecticut and Northern Colorado at Florida. The other two state FBS teams -- the stalwarts -- adjusted schedules and are managing to sneak in games this week:

State FBS Week 2 games:

FIU 17, Alcorn State 10: Butch Davis gets his first Panthers win in Friday night home game played in Birmingham, Ala., due to Irma. Alex McGough passes for 328 yards to lead the victory.

No. 9 Wisconsin 31, FAU 14: Lane Kiffin's Owls were 32-point road underdogs so count this as a credible performance for The Atlantic even as the Hooters fall to 0-2 start (and a likely delayed flight back home).

Miami, Florida, Florida State, UCF, South Florida -- CANCELLED!

National Collball Week 2 overview: Four Top 25 matchups on Saturday, led by No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. in an early CFP-shaping duel. Other T25 games are Auburn at Clemson, Georgia at Notre Dame and Stanford at Southern Cal.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 9-9-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m.: Wait. Fish actually won a game last night!?
2. U.S. Open tennis, 4 p.m.: Women's final: Sloane Stephens vs. Madison Keys.
3. Oklahoma at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m.: No. 5 visits No. 2 in game of week.
4. FAU at Wisconsin, noon: Lane Kiffin's Owls vs. No. 9 Badgers. Uh oh.
5. Liverpool at Manchester City, 7:30 a.m.: Tastiest match of day in EPL.
 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2017

NFL 100% right to postpone Dolphins opener. But should UM have canceled road game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Chiefs-Pats pick, return of SOPY rankings find 3 Canes in Top 10, latest 'Back In My Day,' Reelin' in the Years, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Stay away, Hurricane Irma. Weaken and veer, you terrible thing. 2) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whup Bethune with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, other Collball Week 1 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Chiefs at Patriots prediction: Kansas City at New England kicks off the NFL season tonight. Will Dolfans girding for Hurricane Irma get the gift of a Pats loss? Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for my predix.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S MIND AIN'T ON FOOTBALL THIS WEEK. STAY SAFE, NEIGHBORS: [Click on NFL Right to Postpone Dolphins Opener for my complete latest column]. They could have rushed it and played the Dolphins-Bucs opener here tonight, but Dolfans have more important things on their minds in readying for Stadium PathHurricane Irma, such as how to survive this thing, and whether to stay or evacuate. This isn’t the week for a football game. They could have played the game Sunday as scheduled but at a neutral site. I’d heard one as far away as Pittsburgh or Philadelphia mentioned. But why rob Miami, team and fans, of a home game, or play at all on the very day when Irma is likely to wreak its worst havoc. There was some talk of still trying to play the game Monday night here, but that may have been the worst option of all. Even if Irma is kind enough to veer away from a direct hit, South Florida still will get the brunt of it. You’re going to ask fans without electricity, picking through rubble, trying to contact their insurance company about the roof, to drive through flooding to attend a football game? And cheer a first down as if their lives hadn’t just been walloped? Absurd. I'm not as certain the Miami Hurricanes needed to or should have canceled their game at Arkansas State -- although I support them doing it -- but moving Dolphins-Bucs to Week 11 when both had a bye was a no-brainer. Be safe, all.

Our most recent other columns: Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast: Off UM season opener  /  A Humbling Welcome Back: Butch Davis' return to coaching U loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side: Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU: Onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual rank.

SOPY RANKINGS / 2017 SEASON DEBUT: THREE CANES IN INITIAL TOP 10: Today we launch the sixth season of the blog's State Offensive Player of the Year Sopy(SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race. The weekly rankings measure the most productive Mmiltonquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based on average yards per game: Total divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even though not all teams have played same number of games. (Even now, South Florida already has played twice). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. UCF's McKenzie Milton (pictured) checks in as our season leader out the gate ahead of defending champion Quinton Flowers of South Florida. Canes Mark Walton and Malik Rosier rank 3-4. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 2:

2017 SOPY WEEK 1 TOP 10

RK Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb          208

2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb          183

3    Mark Walton-Miami rb               168

4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb               167.5

5    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                    138.5

6    Travis Homer-Miami rb              133

7    Alex McGough-FIU qb               107.5

8    Thomas Owens- FIU rec             105

9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb          102

10t Dredrick Snelson-UCF rec           98

10t Willie Wright-FAU rec                 98

Bubble: DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec, 94. Other team leader: Florida--Josh Hammond-rec, 71. Week 1/season best: Milton-UCF, 208.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (2-0); 4. Florida (0-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (0-1).

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2016—Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,917. 2015—Flowers, 2,077.5. 2014—Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968. 2013—Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107. 2012—Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 9-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:
1. Kansas City at New England, 8:30 p.m.: NFL season opener from Foxborough.
2. U.S. Open tennis, 7 p.m.: All-U.S. women's semifinals begin in New York.
3. Marlins at Braves, 7:35 p.m.: Fish make a road show of their miserable slump.
4. Sam Houston at Prairie View, 7:30 p.m.: If you're desperate for college football.
 
LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': DISHWASHERS:


R.I.P., FAREWELL AND THANK YOU, WALTER BECKER:

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

August 30, 2017

Love it? Hate it? Rate my fantasy football team. Last day to vote in annual poll!; plus my Haden to Steelers, Hurricanes season-preview column, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30. So much for all the morning hooraw over Joe Haden's availability and Dolphins interest. Steelers got him. 2) Click here for best-of-podcast from yesterday's LeBatard Show. The new Back In My Day (tap water) kicks in around the 47-minute mark. 3) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Sunday Stanton column & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new Hurricanes preview column: Hopes are way-high for Year 2 of the Mark Richt era even as a new QB, Malik Rosier, takes over. I preview the season that opens this Saturday vs. Bethune Cookman in my latest column. Click Litmus Test: Beat FSU to read.

Fantasy Fantasy2ANNUAL POLL: RATE MY FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM: We do this every year in the blog, a little boutique poll intended for my fellow fantasy football players. I don't go crazy, I'm in only two leagues. One is the LeBatard Show league, where my Greg's Lobos have developed a sort of cult following including regular on-air updates. The other is a family 'n friends league. The radio-show league hasn't held its draft yet, while my other league did so Sunday, so this poll is for that league: a standard PPR league with a 12-team snake draft and pretty basic rules. The poll shows the teams in draft order, 1 though 12. When we conclude the voting I'll tell you which team is mine and how it ranked -- based solely on each team's 1st, 2nd and 3rd-round top picks. Scan the dozen top threes and VOTE FOR YOUR TOP 3 TEAMS. Vote for the one you like best, or the one you'd be happiest having. Vote, then check back often to monitor evolving results:

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP 3!

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 8-30-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 4:05 p.m.: Stanton (51 HRs), Fish try to avoid 3-game sweep.

2. U.S. Open tennis, 1 p.m.: Second-round matches begin in New York.

Select other recent columns -- Stanton Chasing 1984. Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic Offense. Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners. Also: Double QB Quandary A Rarity. New Owner, New Hope. A Diamond, Shining. Immortality Calling. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

August 26, 2017

Your polarizing predictions on tonight's Mayweather-McGregor fight; plus big reason for optimism on Dolphins (new column), Stanton pace at 63, latest 'Back In My Day' video, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 26. R.I.P., Felo Ramirez: The Marlins Spanish-language broadcaster passed away this week at his Miami home at age 94. Ramirez called Marlins games since the franchise's inception in 1993 and was a legend in Latin American baseball circles. To an epic life well led, sir. 2) Mark Richt names Malik Rosier as Miami Hurricanes starting quarterback. But will it last? 3) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Happy Solar Eclipse Monday, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Stanton's chase for 60: After two more homers Friday giving him 49 for the season, Stanton's projected pace is now 63.

New column: Dolphins offense will make up for shortcomings on D: Can one feel excitement and dread all at once? We imagine those are the disparate yet oddly joined thoughts Miami Dolphins fans should be feeling as they now palpably face the coming NFL season. The question is who’s winning. Is it the optimist inside you? Or the pessimist within who always seems closer at hand? Side with optimism, I say. Here's why: This Dolphins offense will be better than the defense is bad. Click on Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic Offense to read.  

POLL RESULTS: YOUR POLARIZING VERDICTS ON TONIGHT'S MAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR FIGHT: We invited you in a pair of polls (see below) to say who you wanted to win tonight's big Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match in Las Vegas, and who you predicted would win. After more than 1,100 votes were cast, your verdicts: On who you WANT to win the fight, it was the underdog McGregor winning your vote with 62.12 percent. On who you predict WILL win the fight, it was the favorite Mayweather with 69.70%.

PS3: PHILADELPHIA 38, DOLPHINS 31: Click on Alphabet Lesson: Jays Ready, D Not for my quick-hits column off last night's Miami loss in Philly in Fake Game 3 ..... In-game: Grant 69-yard catch and run ties it 31-31 ... Franks 56-yard FG just before half has Fins within 28-24 ... Dolphins 21-14 on Thomas 1-yard TD pass set up by end-zone interference call on Cutler bomb to Stills ... Miami 14-7 on another Ajayi 2-yard scoring run, this up by Jordan Phillips interception and return to Birds 3 ... Fins tie it 7-7 on 2-yard Ajayi TD run set by 72-yard Cutler completion to Parker. ..... Original post: The starters played so little in Miami winning then losing its first two exhibition games that little could be discerned about the season ahead. Tonight should tell more. Fake Game 3s (I think it's mandatory to call them the "dress rehearsal") are the one game of four in the preseason in Dolphiwhich the starters will play a lot -- likely the whole first half maybe seeping into the third quarter -- and the scoreboard matters a bit. You are putting your best Ps3out there and trying to win, after all, for the only time in August. Five things to watch tonight: 1) How will the offensive line look? Center Mike Pouncey plays in a game for the first time since November and tackle Ja'Wuan James plays for only time this preseason. It'll be a bad sign if the ground game doesn't percolate tonight. 2) Pass defense, please!? Carson Wentz, who ain't Tom Brady, shredded Miami's D in two shared practices this week. Return of free safety Nate Allen should (had better) help. 3) Jay Cutler. He threw only six passes in his debut last week so this will be our first real look at the named starter. A solid showing by him will see hopes for the season buoyed. 4) The running game. Jay Ajayi will see his first extensive action and Kenyan Drake should play a bunch. Behind a starting O-line, we'll be looking for something close to good-to-go performance from Ajayi, last season's breakthrough star. 5) Middle linebacker and left guard. Mike Hull and newly signed veteran Rey Maualuga are battling to replace injured MLB Raekwon McMillan. Third-stringer Jesse Davis has inherited the LG spot. Solid play from those two positions will earn an exhale of relief from Fins coaches.

Note: Our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will return again this year, but they start with the regular season. So look for the for the first DSM poll on Sept. 10.

MaymcLESSER OF TWO EVILS? YOUR PREDICTION(S) ON THE MAYWEATHER-MCGREGOR FIGHT: If you're like me, you don't particularly like Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor, who'll be in a boxing ring this Saturday in Las Vegas for their much ballyhooed boxing/UFC hybrid. You'd probably like it if they could both lose. But curiosity and hype will have you watching, and human nature says you'll pick a side. You'll have a rooting interest, even if it's driven by rooting against somebody. I'm curious how you all feel; hence, these two polls -- one asking who you want to win, the other who you predict will win. Vote one with heart, the other with head, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 8-26-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Mayweather-McGregor, 7 p.m.: You say it's a farce. You'll be watching anyway.

2. San Diego at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: After 2 more Friday, Stanton's next HR will be 50th.

3. Little League World Series, 3:30: U.S. championship, after International finale at 12:30.

4. L.A. Chargers at L.A. Rams, 8 p.m.: NFL exhibition game

5. South Florida at San Jose State, 7:30 p.m. USF Bulls 1st state FBS team to kick off season.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': GENDER-REVEAL PARTIES: The latest BIMD, from yesterday's LeBatrd Show With Stugotz. Key phrase: "It's Larry!" Enjoy:

Select other recent columns -- Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners (Don't you dare trade him!) Double QB Quandary A Rarity (On Dolphins, Canes' shared upheaval). New Owner, New Hope (Let's party at news Loria agrees to sell to Jeter group). A Diamond, Shining (Giancarlo Stanton's great season). Immortality Calling (Jason Taylor in Hall, now who's next?). Also: Right Time, Right QuarterbackThe Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

August 16, 2017

Me, Papi and 'Highly Questionable': The controversy escalates into name-calling; plus your verdict on confidence in Derek Jeter, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16. Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Marlins/Derek Jeter poll, your verdict on Jay Cutler signing & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Cote on ESPN's Highly Questionable again today: It's Me-Week on HIghly Questionable, according to me. I was in-studio on ESPN's HQ show Monday and yesterday and will be again for a final time today, in the middle of Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre. Shows airs 4:30 p.m. back on the main ESPN.

Latest columns: On Dolphins, Hurricanes, Marlins: Our latest Sunday column quantifies how rare it is that the Dolphins and UM both are going into a season with new quarterbacks, and both can blame plain rotten luck. Click on Double QB Quandary A Rarity to read. And a Marlins doubleheader: Jeffrey Loria agreeing to sell to the group fronted by Derek Jeter makes us wonder, "What's next?" But first ... LET'S PARTY! Click on New Owner, New Hope to read. Also: Underappreciated nationally, overshadowed in his own city, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is having one of the great seasons in Miami sports history, having hit his MLB-leading (and club-record) 43rd home run last night. My column is an unabashed appreciation. Click on A Diamond, Shining to read. 

PapiME, PAPI AND 'HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE': It's been fun doing ESPN's Highly Questionable this week. And funny, too, reading some of the Tweets and other reaction from people convinced I'm embroiled in a hostile takeover to replace beloved Papi in the middle of that table. There is no replacing Papi. But, this week, I find Mehq Papiandmemyself in between Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre on the set (pictured far left) as Dan and Papi are off on what I assume is vacation but on Papi's part also is an apparent contractual holdout. Fun fact: Bomani is way taller than Pablo and I but appears smaller in this photo. Magic? Also left, Papi and I, erstwhile friends, in happier days. It may surprise many of you to learn they asked me if I wanted to do this; I did not storm the studio heavily armed and commandeer the set. I considered the offer, quickly realized how much more TV pays than radio, and nonchalantly said, OH HELL YES!!! The producers have had me wearing a Papi-esque guayabera shirt and doing a few other Papi-esque things, which probably fanned the flame of controversy a bit. So did this: A LeBatard Tweet in which Papi accused me of being a "scab" for doing HQ in his place. Is Papi actually involved in a contractual dispute (#PayPapi) that has him off the air? No idea. No idea at all. Am I a "scab" for filling in for him, as Papi and a few of you have accused? That wounds me. Hence, the scab. Get it!?! Relax, all. It's just TV. It's just sports. I'll do my three lil' days of HQ this week and you'll likely not see me again on the tube (except on the televised radio show once a week). And soon, Papi will be back at the HQ desk. Well, I think. Probably. Maybe.

POLL RESULT: CONFIDENCE IN JETER STARTS WITH 'ANYBODY BUT LORIA' BOUNCE: We asked, "What best reflects your confidence that money-man Bruce Sherman and baseball-guy Derek Jeter will be successful Marlins owners?" Your verdict: 

HOT BUTTON DAILY: WED 8-16-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. San Francisco at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.: Fish (4-1), hot Stanton wrap up 6-game homestand.

2. Highly Questionable, 4:30 p.m.: I co-host again today on ESPN. My blog, my shameless plug!

3. Spanish Super Cup, 4:55 p.m.: Real Madrid-Barcelona in another El Clasico.

Select other recent columns -- Immortality Calling (with Jason Taylor in Hall, who's next?). Right Time, Right Quarterback (Dolphins should have gone with Kaepernick). Also: The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

August 11, 2017

PS1: Dolphins 23, Atlanta 20: Our quick-read, quick-thought observations on preseason opener; plus the wonder of Giancarlo Stanton, Jay Cutler poll, latest 'Back In My Day,' Fins fantasy ranks, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 11. Click on Pencils for the new Back In My Day from this week's LeBatard Show. 2) R.I.P., Glen Campbell, the Rhinestone Cowboy, gone this week at 81. 3) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10 led by Jay Cutler arrival, your Dolphins/Hurricanes QB calamity verdicts & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest column: On the wonder of Giancarlo Stanton: Underappreciated nationally, overshadowed in his own city, the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is having one of the great seasons in Miami sports history. My new column is an unabashed appreciation. Click on A Diamond, Shining to read. 

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter is back ... but not yet: Another season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls is at hand, but, as always, they begin with the regular season, not in the preseason. Watch for the season's DSM debut on Sunday, Sept. 10.

PS1: DOLPHINS 23, ATLANTA 20: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FAKEBALL!?: Click on Quick Thoughts On Fake Game 1 for our mini-column on Thursday night's preseason-opening Miami win. The one update I'd offer: Rookie Raekwon McMillan's torn-ACL knee injury will cause him to miss the season and overrides any good that came out of last night. Big blow. First Tannehill, now the starting middle linebacker ..... Original post: The biggest scam in all of sports is that NFL teams get away with including preseason exhibition games in their season-ticket packages, requiring fans to pay full fare for fakeball or fraudball games they wouldn't otherwise pay to see. I mean, seriously, if you plan to  attend tonight's first preseason game (7 Atlmiap.m., CBS) despite the forecast of gloomy weather and are actually and truly excited to do so -- you are a Dolfan deserving of a medal. No Jay Cutler tonight. In fact very few starters will play Ps1much if at all. Not for the visiting Falcons, either. This of course renders the result meaningless. Miami could win by 20 or lose by 20 and it would signify nada. The game does mean a lot to participants, naturally. To coaches who must make roster cuts. To borderline players trying to make it. From a fan standpoint, though, it's a micro/macro thing. If you're Macro and you just want to judge the finished product starting Sept. 10, not see how the sausage is made along the way, tonight probably isn't for you. If you're Micro and you care about the minutia, stuff like who might be the fifth wide receiver, the preseason is your Petri dish. Tonight will mostly be about rookies, and Miami draft-loaded on defense, so that's tonight's focus. On rookie middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan: He's a baby, not yet 21, but set to start. Whether he flies or fails will have a huge impact on whether the Fins' defense improves as much as it needs to. On rookie defensive tackle Davon Godchaux: Is he really beating out young veteran Jordan Phillips for the start, or are the reps right now more of a fire-starter under Phillips? And on rookie defensive end Charles Harris: Surprisingly little attention for the No. 1 draft pick, maybe because he'll begin as a rotation player. But tonight will be our first good look at that explosive first step of his. And on rookie cornerback Cordrea Tankersley: Can the third-round pick make the team? Needs to shine tonight. Offensively, tonight one of the "other guys" at quarterback will stake a claim to being kept as a No. 3 behind Cutler and Matt Moore. By the way, don't look for Cutler to be smoking a cigarette on the sideline tonight. That would violate stadium rules.

JaycutlerTHE CUTLER POLL: YOUR CONFIDENCE IN THE DOLPHINS' NEW QUARTERBACK: I have my say in this column; click New QB, Same Hopes to read. Although I preferred the Dolphins dare to sign Colin Kaepernick instead, hauling Jay Cutler out of retirement makes a ton of sense for Miami, given his experience, relationship with Adam Gase and knowledge of the offense Gase and the Fins use. The transition should be smooth. And I think with Cutler the Dolphins remain exactly what they were a week ago with Tannehill healthy, no more, no less: A pretty good team with a lot of "ifs" but a real shot at the playoffs. I know Cutler is a ripe target for lampooning. The nude photo. The cigarette photoshops. The celeb wife. And he has this habit of often seeming to convey apathy or boredom; see photo at right from yesterday's introductory media session. Still, a positive signing that makes the best of a bad situation and keeps Miami's season viable, I say. OK, now here comes your opinion. Express your degree of confidence in Cutler, or lack of, by taking a dip in our poll. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

AJAYI, LANDRY LEAD DOLPHINS IN FANTASY: Almost fantasy draft time, with Greg's Lobos on high alert. ESPN has a 10-team, 16-round mock fantasy draft here, and the four Dolphins selected, predictably, are: RB Jay Ajayi (2nd round/16th overall); WR Jarvis Landry (6th/51st); WR DeVante Parker (9th/85th); and WR Kenny Stills 12th/116th).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: FRI 8-11-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Colorado at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: After 2-5 roadie, Fish open 6-game homestand.

2. PGA Championship, 1 p.m.: Second round of season's final golf major.

3. Steelers at Giants, 7 p.m.: NFL preseason game.

4. USA Diving nationals, 9 p.m.: Nat'l championships From Columbus, Ohio.

5. Track world championships, ongoing: Track & field worlds continue in London.

Select other recent columns -- Immortality Calling (with Jason Taylor in Hall, who's next?). Right Time, Right Quarterback (Dolphins should have gone with Kaepernick). Also: The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote